WEST VALLEY CITY — Just two days after arriving here, new Utah Grizzlies head coach Tim Branham hasn't found a place of residence yet.
However, Branham has found a new NHL home for the Grizzlies. At a press conference Wednesday, he announced that the Anaheim Ducks will be the team's new NHL affiliate.
Upon taking the job as the head coach and general manager of the Utah Grizzlies last month, Branham's top priority has been to recruit top-notch players. An affiliation that matches his philosophy was a key part of that plan.
"My first order of business into bringing the Grizzlies into this new era was to find an affiliate that shares in our common goal of developing players both on and off the ice and creating a winning atmosphere," Branham said. "(The Anaheim Ducks) stood out among the rest. They have a deep talent pool, strong management group. Through our conversations it was clear that this organization was the right choice."
The agreement means that the Ducks, which won the Pacific Division last season, will send six or seven players to the Grizzlies. Utah will serve as the team's AA affiliate, while the AHL's Norfolk Admirals will continue to be the Ducks' AAA affiliate.
The Grizzlies had been affiliated with the Calgary Flames for the past four years.
Norfolk assistant general manager Bob Ferguson said the Ducks were looking for a franchise where their players would be exposed to "a good city, good environment, good hockey history here, and fans who would appreciate good hockey and would also understand bad hockey. It all helps in the development."
Ferguson said the Ducks were also looking for a coach they could trust. He said they found it in Branham, whom Ferguson once coached. Branham comes to Utah after helping the Reading Royals with the ECHL championship as an assistant coach.
"We are focusing on developing (the Ducks) from within," Ferguson said, adding that the big club not only wants to teach its young players on how to play in the NHL, but also to win in the NHL. "Tim's success at Reading speaks for itself. They play the game the right way, and that's what's going to happen here."
Branham, 32, was making his first public appearance in Utah after replacing Kevin Colley, who led the Grizzlies for five seasons. Branham, an Eagle River, Wis., native, was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 2000. He played for several minor league teams, mostly in the ECHL and AHL. Since 2003, he has owned and operated the Branham Hockey Camps, a school that develops youth hockey players.
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